(FiveNation.com)- Last Wednesday, Pope Francis held a mass in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, before an estimated one million faithful where he urged Congo’s war-ravaged people to forgive those who have harmed them, the BBC reported.
Greeting the crowd in Lingala, one of the four national languages of Congo widely spoken in Kinshasa, the Pope used his homily to urge the people to open their hearts to forgiveness.
Citing the example of Jesus who forgave those who betrayed them, the pope said Christ showed the disciples his wounds “because forgiveness is born from wounds” when the “wounds do not leave scars of hatred,” they “become the means by which we make room for others and accept their weaknesses.”
The pope said weakness is an opportunity and forgiveness is “the path to peace.”
Francis referred to the country’s decades of violence, particularly in Congo’s eastern region that has forced millions to flee their homes. He stressed that forgiveness doesn’t mean denying that bad has happened. Instead, it creates an “amnesty of the heart.”
The pope said cleansing “our hearts of anger and remorse” and “every trace of resentment and hostility” does great good.
After the mass, the pope met with victims of the ongoing fighting in the east where in the past year, rebel groups have intensified their attacks as they seek to expand their territory.
After arriving in Congo last Tuesday, the pope also issued a stern caution to the West over its exploitation of Africa for mining, saying the wealthy nations had to remember that people are more precious that the minerals beneath their feet.
“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hands off Africa,” the pope said, adding that Africa “is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.”
The pope was also supposed to visit Congo’s eastern province of North Kivu but the trip was canceled due to fighting.